Zimbabwe’s Eight HIFA

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The eighth edition of the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), one of Africa's greatest celebrations of arts burst into life on May 1, bringing a positive feeling to Zimbabweans going through a rough economic patch.

The premier cultural event which ran until May 6 celebrates the many facets and cultures-Zimbabwean, African, European, Asian and American in style bursting with sound and color brought by countless professional and amateur entertainers.

HIFA, arguably the biggest festival in Southern Africa brings together 150 international artistes who will showcase their talents ranging from Zimbabwean traditional music, African jazz, contemporary dance from a new generation of choreographers, brass and mbira music, film, theatre, Japanese traditional dance, Chinese opera, the Indian Kathak dance and Korean traditional music.

"It is a time to show the many creativeness and acts of heroism. It is a time to showcase how creative we are because creativity is part of our lives," said HIFA founder and artistic director Manuel Bagorro.

World acclaimed artistes set the festival alive with their live performances. Award winning female vocalist Thandiswa Mazwayi of South Africa's Bongo Maffin outfit and Namibian lead singer Gazza thrilled the fans with their explosive cocktail of dancehall, ragga, hip-hop and kwaito music.

Other heavyweights are Cameroonian hip-hop star Blick Bassy of the JeGo album fame; Shanik from Swaziland; Kinobe from Uganda; Kwani Experience band of South Africa; Angolan music legend Bonga; Sweden's 11-member Zimba Marimba group; and other groups from Korea, Norway, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, France and Portugal.

The Red Pennant dancers from China performed for the first time. Zimbabwe music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi, mbira music giants Mawungira Enharira, gospel song bird Shingisai Suluma, Tumbuka contemporary dance group and upcoming jazz talent Victor Kunonga brought the Zimbabwean flavor to this festival which has an enviable reputation for showcasing new talent and trends in art and entertainment.

HIFA's theme for 2007 is: "Its Show Time" and festival organizers say this theme encourages Zimbabweans to explore the difficult circumstances in which they find themselves and what it is that motivates them to keep rising to challenges whilst retaining their drive and optimism.


Tsiko is The Black Star News’s Southern Africa correspondent based in Harare.

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